Important Dates in the History
of Grange Court Junction
|| Brunel suggests Broad Gauge
(7ft) to Great Western Railway.
|| South Wales Railway (Chepstow
to Fishguard) authorised.
|| Railway Act authorised
eastward extension from Chepstow to Grange Court in Broad
|| June 5th Hereford, Ross and
Gloucester Railway incorporated.September 19th Gloucester and Dean
Forest Railway opened line to Grange Court, ending in a junction
between the GWR and South Wales Railway.
|| July 19th South Wales Railway
linked via Grange Court and Gloucester, to Chepstow and Swansea by
bridging the Wye at Chepstow.
|| July 11th 5 miles of Hereford,
Ross and Gloucester Railway opened between Grange Court and Hopesbrook.
Hereford Line controlled by electric telegraph and crossing order:
single line working.
|| June 1st Line completed to
Hereford. Grange Court Junction opened. Eight trains each day on
|| Hereford, Ross and Gloucester
Railway merges with the Great Western.
|| Hereford to Grange Court line
converted from Broad Gauge to Standard Gauge.
|| May 11th last Broad Gauge
train ran in South Wales.
|| May 21st-22nd Final massive
weekend conversion of Great Western to Standard Gauge.
Station Masters at Grange Court
The 1861 Census lists John Townshend (aged 31)
living at Station House, with the occupation of "policeman on Great
The 1871 Census records Joseph Williams as
stationmaster, living with his wife Cecilia and children Robert and
By the time the Census was made in 1881, Thomas
Pearson was stationmaster, living wth his wife Sarah.
In 1891 the Census shows Thomas Bailey as stationmaster, living with
Mary his wife and sons Archibald and Hugh.
In Sequence, as known:
Until 1896 T. Bailey
Until 1899 W. Roberts
Until 1900 W. Vaughan
Until 1915 Mr Fay
Until 1932 Mr Kirk
Until 1945 Mr Fletcher
Until 1950 Mr Freeman
Until 1957 Mr Lewis
Until 1961 Mr Howell
Until closure in 1964 Frank Curtis
Most staff employed at the station, including
platelayers, signalmen, "servants" etc seem to have lived in the
immediate area, sometimes as lodgers, in Northwood Green, Adsett and
First: Pointsmen using hand signals.
Circa 1853: Telegraph
Circa 1862: Transom type of fixed signal, worked from signal box.
Circa 1890: Quadrant type of semaphore signal introduced.
Separate East and West signalboxes existed from the early days. The
single, central box was introduced on April 15th 1935.
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GRANGE COURT JUNCTION
When I was late, the signal's warning clang
Would catch me running down the bumpy field,
Dodging the cow-flops and the tussocked grass
To sprint along the line and cross the bridge
Before the local train pulled out to join
The long straight miles of track that led to school.
At night, the 'push and pull' sat in the bay,
Until the down express had cleared its path,
Then clattered off to drop me in the dusk,
And chunter off along the Forest branch.
There was so much to see and wonder at
At Grange Court Junction in those far-off days.
The engines proud in green and polished gold:
'Castles' and 'Stars', 'Manor' and 'Hall' and 'Grange';
Slow, endless freights side-tracked and blowing steam;
The satisfying clunk of shifting points,
As bell-codes sounded from the signal box
And polished levers swung in gleaming grooves;
While porters brewed strong tea at platform ends
And in the ticket office fires burnt bright.
It all seemed very solid, sure and safe,
That old Great Western Railway way of life;
Not even nationalisation's arms could reach
To threaten Gloucestershire or change our ways.
But blaring tin-box diesels came, and then at last
The Beeching axe swung on our rural lines:
Oakle Street, Blaisdon Halt and Bullo Pill,
Uneconomical and doomed to die;
Until the branch line and my junction fell:
Last sacrifices of the age of steam.
And now the faceless trains still thunder through
On canted rails all re-aligned for speed.
But signal box and loading dock are gone;
No lower-quadrant signals clatter down,
But distant soundless colour-lights shine out
Along the miles of cost-effective track.
Now only memory flags the locos off,
Or whistles down the years the passing trains.
(Chris Price lived as a boy at Grange Court and
travelled daily to school in Gloucester from the station)
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Two ghostly tales have been
associated with the area of the station, submitted by a driver with
Sometime in the late 1950s a freight train was
routed into the freight loop at Grange Court, the signaller forgetting
to reset the points. He then set the signals to give a through run for
the following passenger train, which upon crossing the points was sent
into the rear of the freight train, demolishing the rear of the train
and killing the unsuspecting guard in the process.
A few years ago an Arriva driver passing through
the area at night turned in his cab to find a ghostly image sat in the
secondman's seat of his train. He was shaken enough to stop his train
and call and tell the story to his very sceptical guard. This wasnt the
first time it has happened and it had been reported before in British
Rail days by various drivers, to the obvious derision of their
colleagues. Is this tale a case of too many strong cheese sandwiches on
a driver's rest break, or is there the slightest bit of truth in the
The second tale concerns the level crossing at
Broken Cross just beyond Grange Court, and the tale goes even further
back in the mists of time to the reign of good King Henry and the
dissolution of the monasteries. Apparently after the break from Rome,
Henry gave orders that all monasteries should be stripped of money and
valuables. Eventually they appeared in your locality heading for the
local monastery. A monk, hearing of the soldiers' approach, collected
all the valuables together and fled. The soldiers caught up with the
monk, killed him and left the body in a field. The local villagers,
finding the monk's body, buried him and erected a cross to mark his
grave. All remained quiet for over 300 years until Mr Brunel plotted
the course of the Great Western broad gauge main line down from
Gloucester and straight through the monk's grave. Not being big on
conservationism at the time, the navvies ripped up the cross and laid
the line over the poor monk's grave. This has led to the area allegedly
being haunted by a ghostly monk.
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My name is John Prytherch and I lived with my
parents in Blaisdon from early 1969 until early 1975, my parents
remaining there until 1977 when they moved to Peterstow. Very sadly, I
never travelled the Grange Court to Hereford line, as we lived in
Cheshire from 1959 until 1966, and the then terrifying rigours of a new
boy's first term at Cheltenham College, in Autumn 1964, allowed no time
for a visit until the closure had taken place. And of course, it was
and still is a shock to me that it did close. From 1957 to 1959 we
lived in Monmouth and my mother ensured that my brother and I travelled
both the Ross and Chepstow lines during 1958. The Grange Court and
Hereford line was, of course, the main line at Ross, and to a child it
certainly looked it, with its much bigger trains than those found on
When we moved to Blaisdon, Grange Court was of
course our nearest point on the railway, and my nearest signalbox. I
had just the one month of my final school holiday - April 1969 - to
enjoy it. By July, Gloucester panel had taken over.
So I only knew Grange Court after the branch line,
and virtually all the station buildings, had gone. But even then it was
impressive, mainly because the profusion of distant signals for the
local level crossings (Westbury, Broken Cross and Ley) still gave the
place an air of importance. Fortunately the signalmen were friendly. I
think I remember Mr Callaghan in particular, I am fairly sure he is the
signalman in the picture on this website.
Although I made only a few unofficial visits to the
box in just one month, I loved it and I have to say that it was and
will always be my favourite box. Even with the branch line gone, it was
still busy, with two goods loops, and a distant, outer home,
intermediate home, inner home, starter, advanced starter and
intermediate block signal in each direction! And I liked the
arrangement of the frame at the back. Of course, by that time, it was
not perfectly kept as it had once been, all the levers which had been
to do with the branch and its connections were white spares, with one
of them (41, the former FPL for the down main to branch facing points)
bolted reverse and so sticking out like a sore thumb all the time. And
of course I also remember the crossing ground frames, Broken Cross was
delightful, and I also remember Mrs. Ingram at Westbury Crossing.
After the MAS came, it was all very different. The
box had disappeared by the end of the summer of 1969, just a ground
frame for the emergency crossovers. Nearly everything of character
gone! The old ground frame at Broken Cross was replaced by a single
gate bolt lever and miniature red-green warning lights, although that
at Westbury was refurbished and painted light green, its gate bolt
lever retained and slot switches and repeaters provide for the
protecting running signals (G 111 and DM 122). Now of course, all that
is gone, and the lovely big gates, and Mrs Ingram's cottage, I think
there are just half barriers and DM 122 is now G 110. Since I left the
area, the Up Goods Loop has been extended through the station (on the
alignment of the Down Branch!) and G211 and points 771 repositioned.
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